Music has been a vital part of my life.  I'm not sure why exactly I started learning how to play instruments.  Perhaps somewhere down the line someone said that this was the 'formula' for success.  However, I do not deny that there was some meaningful benefits to my life in learning how to read and play music.  

First of all, I would like to apologize to my parents for always complaining about practicing... No one likes to practice to get better, but it is part of discipline.  The main reason why I started practicing was that learning how to play instruments was an opportunity my mom never had .  However, good news: at an age over 60 she started taking lessons again~

I started to learn how to play the piano in first grade, violin in fifth grade, guitar in seventh grade and bass guitar somewhere in between young and old.  I will not claim that I was the most amazing instrumentalist, but I don't think I completely sucked either.  Fun fact: I began my college career with a full scholarship in violin performance at the University of Iowa.  Like a prodigal (prodigal means wasteful; I learned that word taking the GRE's...even though I had read the parable Jesus taught many times), I dropped the major and decided to focus on engineering.  I have a list of regrettable decisions that I have made in my life, and this one is on the list.  I really need to find my audition video and post it (Played Lalo 5th movement).  

Another interesting fact: I actually only listen to classical music.  I'm not a big fan of the main stream music, mostly because of the messages that are being disseminated to the masses.  

Also, I am not a big fan of band instruments/wood winds and the like.  I feel bad for all parents who had to endure duck calls and carrying brass/silver instruments.  

Violin:  Yes, it is squeaky at times and makes me look like a giant.  Itzhak Perlman was one of my favorite violinists growing up.  His playing of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas sets the standard.  I took some violin lessons in Graduate school; the most recent piece I was working on was Pablo Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs). <- They play it almost as well as I do... *cough cough*

Piano:  I would say I like playing the piano the most.  However, my aptitude of reading bass clef notes has severely diminished after starting the violin.  I stopped taking lessons when I was a senior in high school.  I was working on the 5th Rachmaninov Prelude in G minor at the time.  I took lessons in Graduate school to finish learning how to play this piece.  I memorized it, but at the recital totally bombed/forgot the music.  

While we still have Russian pianists/composers in mind, one of my favorite pieces is Shostakovich's Piano Concerto (2nd Movement).  <- Listen to it; you will not regret.  

Guitar/Bass Guitar:  My brother started playing guitar for the Youth Group at church.  I wanted to learn, too, as 'monkey see, monkey do'.  I asked him, and he gave me an old guitar, chord sheet and told me 'down down up up down up'.   That was enough to get me started and eventually enough to lead praise at church.  I am not a good singer, however.  I sound like a bear according to some people I know.

Tragic Comedy

Story 1: Every year there is an All-State Music Festival for high school students that cements their place in history (AKA a list of a thousand names... not very impressive).  Anyway, this is a 'big deal' for a lot of people.  I would say I did care in high school, but looking back it's not that special.  

During my senior year, I packed for the bus ride to the All-State Festival in Des Moines (2 hour drive).  Of course I packed the essentials: tooth brush, underwear, clothes, playstation, playstation games and all the power cords etc.  I got on the bus that morning, and we headed over to the local rival school's parking lot.  

Sitting on the bus, I looked out the window and saw such happy (I don't know why they were so happy attending a school that looks like a prison... *cough cough*) students with their instruments.  Immediately I stood up and yelled 'CRAP! I FORGOT MY VIOLIN!!!'.  I started running up and down the aisles in panic while people were laughing.  Luckily, I was able to meet my orchestra conductor, and she went and got my violin for me.  

Apparently they still tell this story at both high schools as a tale of caution.  Moral of the story:  Don't forget why you are on the bus...

Story 2: My cousin Jennifer pointed this out and protested why this was not included.  In high school, she had become an accomplished violinist, way better than me (perhaps).  For some reason, I asked her if I could borrow her violin bow (she was in college at the time).  She lent me her really expensive nice bow...

Long story short, after orchestra rehearsal one day, I was putting away my violin.  I happened to drop my cousin's violin bow, and I went to catch it.  It was too late, the tip hit the ground, and it snapped.  The tip was repaired by a local violin shop, but as we all know the bow was never the same.

To add salt to the wounds.  I played in a quartet in high school earning $25 dollars an hour (usually one hour gigs, but very nice pay for a high school student).  The funds were added to an account that could be used for music-related purchases or the orchestra trip to Europe.  I had gone to Italy previously with another orchestra so I didn't feel compelled to go on this trip.  I decided to use the funds to upgrade my bow to a super nice bow... while neglecting my poor cousin's bow.  This is the main point of contention.  

She doesn't play her violin anymore :P if she joins the local community orchestra, I may give her my nice bow KAKAKAKA.